Early Morning – First Day of Fall

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The real question is how do we promote the conversation to develop a new narrative to guide us away from the worst excesses, internal contradictions, and negative outcomes imbedded in the current narrative at the foundation of our society?

Democratic Fundraising Hell

It seems that every day my inbox is filled with yet another email of the form “candidate x is being attacked by Koch brother money – please send money.”  Am I the only one who sees this as a road to ruin?  The big guys can always outspend us – after all, every time we blow our noses, or wipe our rears, we’re putting money in the Koch brothers’ pockets (just try to find a paper product that they don’t own).  As far as I can tell, political campaigns have become an arms race – benefiting primarily the arms merchants (political consultants, ad agencies, tv networks, etc.).

When you’re fighting a well-funded army, one doesn’t go at them head-on – you go at them with guerrilla tactics, and save your big guns for when they can make a difference.  Save the dollars for after the primaries, for example.

Politics used to be retail – knocking on doors, ward healers, and all that.  Now it’s all about running ads and raising money to pay for them.

The Internet, and particularly social media should have changed the game – but that would mean politicians actually engaging with their constituents, instead of simply treating social media as another fund-raising vehicle.

Or am I all wet here?

Panopticon powered by IBM’s Watson computers

As friend DH points out, the NSA appears to be close to having created “The Machine” described in the television show “Person of Interest”. Combine this database and data capture technology with IBM’s Watson technology and presto, you have “The Machine”, the ultimate tool for leveraging fear, hatred as well as blackmail.

See: “Person of Interest”: The TV Show That Predicted Edward Snowden
By Joshua Rothman
Jan 14 2014

See also:

No Place to Hide: We’re All Suspects In Barack Obama’s America
By Robert Scheer
Jan 21 2014

And for more on the political use of fear, see:

Fifty States of Fear
Jan 19 2014

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell, writing as World War II was drawing to a close in Europe, observed that “neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” Russell’s point was that irrational fear can propel us into counterproductive activities, ranging from unjust wars and the inhumane treatment of others to more mundane cases like our failure to seize opportunities to improve our everyday lives.

Ludlow, however, does not make the connection to the combination of fear and hate, which was made by Goebbels and Stalin. The combination is greater than the sum of its parts and creates a very powerful propaganda tool for influencing behavior.

In the end, it is all about political and economic power. Who has it, who is gaining it, and who is afraid of losing it. In recent times, to see fear in operation it is essential to go back to at least the Russian revolution and the deep fear it created for those whose power and wealth depends on tight centralized control.”The Machine” created by the NSA et al is designed primarily to preserve centralized control and the advantages it gives those who operate it.

Climate Change and Collective Intelligence

Tom Atlee has a great blog post on the challenges we need to overcome to address the changes required to honestly address our changing environment.

“Climate change is so big and pervasive we can hardly see it. There’s almost nothing in our collective lives that is bigger in its implications. The changes it demands of us are the most profound we have ever faced and they are growing increasingly urgent. Among our most radical challenges is building the capacity for whole societies to be smarter and wiser collectively than we are individually…”

The full post is is here.

Well worth reading.

Atmospheric CO2 Utilization Challenge

Promoting innovation for productive uses of carbon resources in the atmosphere. –

The current climate change narrative, whether gloom and doom or denial, is not effectively motivating change in either the demand or supply side of our energy regime. This suggests the need for a new narrative: One that is both positive and constructive. Developing such a new narrative is the goal of the Carbon Challenge.

A Carbon Challenge that implies an economic benefit associated with success in dealing with atmospheric CO2 may well be more persuasive. I suggest, for example, that a Carbon Challenge is a better way to inject the words pyrolysis and “biochar”, or pyrolytic carbon, into the national conversation.

I see this as a cross cutting, multi-disciplinary collaborative effort involving at least gardening, energy, engineering, environment, cooking, policy, soil science, etc. Of course this concept needs to be fleshed out; I’d love to have the chance to talk with you about the potential of a Carbon Challenge.

Examples of companies already inventing a new narrative are:

Cool Planet


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Pyro ⦿ Grilling: An Educational Carbon Challenge

– Cooking Over Real Wood Gas Flames –

Making Charcoal as you Grill

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Five benefits of Pyro ⦿ Grilling

1. Tastes better: cooking over real wood gas flames;

2. Clean burning: No smoke, no soot on food, little soot on pots or pans.

3. Less expensive than store bought charcoal;

4. Great for your garden: when mixed with compost, charcoal makes a great soil amendment – numerous other applications;

5. Good for the environment: ~ 35% – 40% of carbon in the wood pellet fuel is diverted from the atmosphere to valuable uses on land.

The illustrated guide is here.


H.E. Professor DR. FAROOQ HASSAN, Barrister at Law, Attorney at Law,
Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan.*

I am honored to present in these pages the introduction to the twin crises facing the international community presently. The 11th Annual Session of the Rhodes Forum will take place on October 2-6, 2013. Among other issues special attention ought to be paid to the ongoing civil strife in Syria and destabilization of the situation in the Korean Peninsula.
In this survey I shall, however, restrict myself to the disability being caused to the world by the crises in Syria and leave the terrible situation in Korea for another suitable occasion.

Deepening crisis caused by the destabilization to start dialogical process is common for otherwise to two different Korean and Syrian cases. Multiple terrorist acts and kidnapping of two orthodox bishops as well as acts of brinkmanship in Korea by the relevant people would be expecting a responsible public reaction. To trigger such a reaction would be the goal of the upcoming Rhodes Forum. I was really honored when called upon by the organizers of this great forum dialogues to present my views on this crucial subject now facing mankind.[1] 11th Annual Session of the Rhodes Forum will take place on October 2-6, 2013 as activities of the Forum will be dedicated to the analysis of globalization’s transition to a poly-centric and multi-civilizational reality. I considered this matter and have decided to give to the most learned audience an account of this entire topic, admittedly from current perspectives, because of the following three reasons this a compendium of causation.

First it is a matter of utmost simplicity that religion has a vital role to play in most international events and these two impending tragedies are really not different in respect of this issue from the vast majority of similar matters. Since the locality in which Syria is located is Muslim, it would be axiomatic that Islam plays an important role in what follows. The present author is also initially from such a background and is thus more than familiar with various norms of this crisis than would normally be the case.

Secondly, the controversy surrounds the politics of a region in which there is an age old conflict between the different players of this territory in which the present author has a connection of sorts. As such, I feel that my own familiarity with such actors is important to mention; accordingly in passing, I may mention that although I teach at Harvard in two graduate schools since 1989, twice in the decade of the nineties, I remained as a constitutional advisor on international affairs to the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Nawaz Sharif, who is again leading the country amidst heavy opposition elements. So I can speak with some authority on the perspective matters on which I may address the audience.

Thirdly, I am tempted to write on this larger issue so that we may be able to collect a perspective analysis on the significant subject involving a large enough spectrum of views so as to assist others in relevant places to come to the “right” decisions.

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Legal Basis of Syrian Government’s Alleged Actions against Citizens?

Professor Dr. Farooq Hassan, Harvard University

It may be graciously noticed that in the main thematic paper on this crisis, which regrettably continues to deteriorate on a daily basis, I have already pointed out the strange policies. In a strictly legal sense, of some countries towards this crisis tense announcements are quite unprecedented. It remains to be seen, therefore, whether legally some sort of case can be made out by mainly the Western nations against the current Syrian regime for the commission of the crime of using chemical weapons against its own citizens?

Legal Basis of international reaction against the Syrian action?

What we have to respond to in the response to annalysis is to answer briefly the fundamental legal question which is chiefly raised in the Western countries regarding the justification, if any, in law for any such action.

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Make Charcoal. Don’t Burn It

Notes on making grass tablet biochar
A Demonstration of Carbon Negative Energy
Distributed carbon negative energy sources will be important for Climate Security.

The goal of this experiment is to show how CO2, naturally removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis to build biomass, can be harvested as a stable form of carbon by the pyrolysis of the biomass. Pyrolysis of biomass will also yield combustible gases for carbon negative energy. The resulting charcoal (biochar) can be put to a myriad of useful applications, such as: animal feed, filtration, soil amendment etc.

The last section covers slow cooking with carbon negative grilling in a modified Weber grill: Make charcoal, don’t burn it.


Grass Tablet Biochar

Find the full document here: Grass Tablet Biochar w: FAQ.pdf

Switchgrass for Navy fighters.

Switchgrass could soon be powering Navy jet fighters, and eventually commercial airliners. A new pilot project from NREL promises to produce jet fuel from switchgrass, emitting 95% less greenhouse gas than traditional jet fuel. If the project proves successful, the USDA and DoD are poised to help private firms build the huge biorefineries that would be needed.


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